Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Running – A Life Changer

Two months ago I had shared my experiences on becoming a runner and how running has changed my life. Running is just like life, it’s tough and you don’t want to always do it but when you do, its totally worth it. After the pain comes happiness both in life and running. 

Here's another write up on running by a running partner and friend...Anantha Rusum. I hope you enjoy it!

I started running in 2016. Prior to that, I was obese, and was living a stressful life for multiple reasons. Things hit rock bottom, when my father got hospitalised in 2015 May and from then on, his health went on a steady decline. He had to be hospitalised regularly. My husband and I had our platter full with a lot of things, and with two young children, it was becoming increasingly difficult for both of us to cope up with all the stress.                                

Things went downhill when my father passed away in 2016 January. I had lost both my parents within a span of 4 very short years. My stress levels shot up and were far too high to not have any consequences. I began suffering from anxiety attacks, gastric problems and chest pains. After consulting my doctor who advised a Tread Mill Test to check my heart, just 2 weeks after my dad passed away, I became an insomniac. Life was turning out to be a disaster, with things going wrong one after another. It was one of the worst phases in my life.

Feeling suffocated at home, I began seeking ways to escape. I ventured out alone and began going for small walks. I would walk in the mornings, afternoons with the hot sun bearing down on my head at 2’0 clock and nights just to take my mind off things. Less of a walk and more of an escape, I would wander around aimlessly, for at least an hour each time, 3 hours each day. 

Then, one day, I decided to pace up. Instead of a brisk walk, I opted to sprint intermittently. Gradually, this became a norm. Everyday morning, I would wake up by 5:30 AM and start sprinting for an hour. I did this for a few months, and things started taking effect. I was beginning to lose weight and could sleep properly. And most importantly, I seemed to be calming down. When I was running, there were no worries in my mind. And after the run, the head was much clearer. It was working out quite well. I ran alone for almost a year. I could see the results before me slowly taking shape.

In March this year, someone in our apartment complex WhatsApp group, put up a post, saying Captain Subhash Sharma, who is also a part of the FreeRunners group, is willing to coach ladies for running in the evening. As I mentioned earlier I had been running on my own without company or guidance.

Happy at the prospect of some training and company, I went and met Subhash to see what he had to say. There were 8-10 other ladies who were present. He first talked to us about the basics of running and its benefits. And then started us off with warm up exercises. I had been running for a year but these sure were not easy. After the warm ups came the run and then the cool down. 

The first 2 months were very trying. I started off running at my own pace, stopping intermittently and varied my pace based on my capacity. But running continuously needed a far greater effort and determination. Slowly and gradually, Subhash taught us to run 1 km nonstop.  I would run with a water bottle in my hands (my throat would dry up making me cough), and would go out of breath after the first kilometre. I was always the last one to finish the circuit, and was one of the first to be completely zapped out. But as time passed by, my body started cooperating. My first target was to complete two and a half kilometres nonstop. 

The varying exercises for each day, muscle strengthening, hill repeats, fartleks and on other days, a slow and steady run helped me to run better. Gradually, I got used to all the exercises. Albeit at a slower pace, I could then run around 3 Km nonstop.  And as of today, I am able to run 5 Km without stopping anywhere except for a minute pause with a ‘not so bad’ pace. I have lost nearly 14 Kgs. My health issues are more or less settled. I get much better sleep these days.  And am much more at peace. My energy levels have increased and I can contribute a lot more to my family, friends and work, than what I used to do before.



Running alone was one thing, but running in a group is completely different. The group energy boosts up a lot of confidence. The person at a faster pace pulls up the person who is running slowly. The first one round is usually a warm up, where we all chatter quite a bit, and catch up on the happenings in our lives on a day-to-day basis. The second round is when we usually pace up. Then we do not talk, we just run. As we run, we hear our footsteps echoing. We like to match it so that they are in sync. We control our breathing, and we usually don’t want to be left alone, so the pace improves automatically. And when we finally finish our rounds, even though we are panting for breath, we are all rejuvenated.

Running has been a game changer in my life. Not that all my issues are still settled, but it helped me look at things in a better perspective. It helped me meet a lot of people with different outlooks. People have noticed the change in me and I have received lots of compliments, the best one from my mentor Subhash. While running in the Free Runners marathon, he being one of the volunteers handing out water bottles to the runners, handed one to me too. I had almost completed 4 KM and nodded a quick no to him. "Remember, just 6 months back you wouldn’t even run a single step without a water bottle," he said to my retreating back. He has been our inspiration and the pillar for our progress. All the women in our group are committed, they make an effort to take that one hour off their hectic daily schedule for themselves. For, it is worth it. 

Most women have to make a lot of adjustments in our life styles because of our families, our children and work. And in due course, somewhere down the line, we lose our focus on ourselves, especially our health issues. It is imperative that we take care of our physical and mental health. So, if you have not started, it is not too late.

Go out into the fresh air and take that one deep breath, go take that first step. Let go of all your worries and start running. Feel your breath. Celebrate the Woman you are. And prove your worth to yourself, your mind and your body – your two best companions in life. They need you to take care of them.